30 August, 2014

Revisions, revisions, revisions

Whew, August just blew by. Where on earth did it go?

I've made several accomplishments this week that I'm quite proud of, which I would like to share with you folks:

We Can See It Through The Window -- this is a tribute to one of my favourite works, Waiting For Godot. The title, of course, has been a placeholder until I could think of something suitable that would connect with the work itself. Finally after months of waiting, I dreamt up Cabover Cabaret, a title that says exactly what's in the book: social commentary that takes place majorly within a truck. Once that was out of the way, the ending to the story finally came, and I was able to complete the first draft. And now it's shelved for a few months so I can come back to it with fresh eyes.

Speaking of fresh eyes -- I started revisions on Lightning Strikes 1,200 Times. This little flash fiction is on its way to become a full short story, complete with a new opening that highlights Holly's breaking point. Holly being the main character, of course. Once I finish this second draft, it'll go back to my favourite critiquing group for evaluation. If it's anything like Thoroughbred, I should have it completed and up for sale through Amazon within the next six months.

Aside from those two things, I'm still receiving rejections for Uncertain Heirs, which means I'm doing something right that the agents are actually looking at my query instead of it ending up in their slush piles. I've got another round of query submissions to prepare, and I'll have those out this upcoming week.

In the meanwhile, I'll keep you all posted on these current and future projects, as I really can't wait to share them with you all. Anyway, take care until next weekend! :)

***

Currently Reading: Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman
Currently Watching: WVU v. Alabama (then later, Doctor Who)

Revision in Progress: Lightning Strikes 1,200 Times
On Deck: Evening Hallow

23 August, 2014

Thoroughbred free day

Now's your chance, if you haven't already, to get a FREE copy of Thoroughbred over at Amazon.com. It'll be free all of today, so check it out, try it out, and maybe leave a review if it's something you enjoyed -- or didn't enjoy. I want honest feedback, so I won't discourage lone-star reviews if it didn't tickle your fancy.

Is the link above not working? Copy and paste http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IHOTTQW/ into your browser to get a free copy today only!

Enjoy :)

16 August, 2014

A little about the author

I realize I haven't taken the time to actually tell you about me. I've told you about my works, but not me and why I write. Which is rather surprising, considering I've been keeping this blog for over a year. Anyway, I suppose I should start from the beginning, yes?

I was – oh, geez – still in elementary school, growing up on Transformers G1 and Transformers: Beast Wars. Mainframe and HASBRO had just started airing the third season of Beast Wars, and by the second episode – the introduction of Depth Charge – I finally found my favourite character. The whole season introduced us to the animosity and history between Depth Charge and his nemesis, Rampage, and I couldn't sit still between the episodes to wait for more. Somewhere about this time, I stumbled upon the now-defunct Beast Wars Anonymous fanfiction website, and by Primus! had I fallen in love with all the wonderful side adventures the folks at BWA had come up with. It inspired me to try my own hand, and I posted some things to other websites (BWA was no longer being updated at this point in time), and began the slow process of evolving as a writer. Long story short, I was about ten years old when I first started writing.

I can't say I've ever finished the current incarnation of my fanfic, although I'm still picking at it here and there, but my original works are now my priority, so the fanfics will only be updated between those. I'm proud to say that I do better on finishing my original works, though. Uncertain Heirs (out for agent queries) and Thoroughbred are entirely completed, and I have several other first drafts that I'm currently editing. Uncertain Heirs took me about a year and a half to properly write, edit, revise, repeat, until it was done; on the other hand, Thoroughbred took around six months. I've got two long short stories/short novellas that I'm in the process of editing now, one of which I completed just this past July for Camp NaNoWriMo (The Cardinal's Direction), the other I wrote during NaNoWriMo 2013 (We Can See It Through The Window). I'm hoping those'll only take me an average of a year to finish in their entireties.

The reason it takes me so long to complete these works is because I'm doing a 40-hour a week day job, so I only have (if I sit down and focus) about 3 hours a night to write and edit. The weekends are always up for grabs, as those days depend on what "real life" demands of me. And sometimes "real life" doesn't take my writing seriously, which I think is because I do all my writing on the computer, and most people these days presume that if you're on a computer (or any mobile device), that you're just using social media. But see, if I'm not writing, I am still on the computer, but I'm putting together research, pinning down business plans for self-publishing, or just trying to get my questions answered. Social media really only takes up about . . . eh, I'll shoot high, and say I spend about an hour and a half total on social media each day, but my Twitter usage is limited to advertising and marketing what I have for sale.

It's somewhat surprising how involved self-publishing can become. Someone who's just doing the basic Kindle book and limited advertising won't spend that much time on the business side, but when you really get into wanting to publish your own works under your own name – and by name, I mean press name – then you have to start looking into business plans, record keeping, accounting methods, licensing, short- and long-term goals, marketing, so on and so on. It can become an involved process, especially if you're doing it all on your own like I am.

Which reminds me: if you're going to self-publish, and do it seriously because you want to make money, then you need to develop plans to get your writing from point Imagination to point Published. A good number of my stories come from unique dreams that I've had, and many of them have an open-endedness that I have to fill in to make complete stories. The way I do that is to write out what I have, then consort with critiquing groups (Scribophile is my favourite, as it has a straightforward system, and like-minded folks who're there wanting just as serious of feedback for what they're giving) to discover the holes I can't see. Based on their feedback, I fill in, cut, edit, polish, revise, and do everything else it takes to make the story viable and marketable. If it takes me three rounds of editing, then it takes me three rounds, same as if it takes me nine. You can't be afraid to work on something if you want to have a finished product.

And that might just be the most interesting thing about my writing process, in that I use my patience to get me through the process. Yes, it does look daunting sometimes, to have just finished one round of edits to only have to go back and start all over again.

But trust me, it's worth it.

09 August, 2014

Hammering out the details

Howdy, folks! I know my posting habits have been erratic as of late, so I'm going to start keeping a Saturday schedule. This might be a little easier for us all, and this way I can compound my thoughts and progress reports for you in one update.
 
This past week, I've been tying up the ending on The Cardinal's Direction. It's been a bit of a pain, I'll be honest, for all the story I dreamed up, I had to Y-plot to fall between X- and Z-plots. Yeah, I've got my ending, but you can't end a story without tying up the loose threads.
 
I don't know about you folks, but I hate a story that has too many dangling plot lines. So I try not to do that, and I try to keep everything as solid as I can. Tis why I edit, re-edit, then edit again, and edit once more for good measure.
 
While working on The Cardinal's Direction, I've been conceptualizing the characters in my story. Below, I've been working out what the nightmares look like so I can better describe them in-story when I go through and begin my editing process. As you can see, I've gotten them pretty well worked out, aside from their feetsies. Boy, those claws are hard to translate to paper what I'm seeing in my head. Eventually, I'll get it, and hey, you've got some official art from me of the nightmares.
 
Once I finish up work on the initial draft, The Cardinal's Direction is going to join the rotation of stories I have in edits. Of course, I'll keep you posted on the progress of the others.
 

 



























In other news, there's nothing new to report on the progress of Uncertain Heirs. I've had no responses since last week, but hopefully I'll hear at least a "No" from an agent soon.

And finally, as a reminder, Thoroughbred is still on sale for .99c. You can get it through Amazon for your Kindle or Kindle App for your mobile device or computer. Also, if you're trying KindleUnlimited, you can get it for free!

That's all for now, folks. Tune in next Saturday for more updates on my querying adventure and writing progress.

02 August, 2014

August already

A brief update on my many, many things in rotation:

Camp NaNoWriMo has drawn to an end, and though I didn't finish my current project, I did at least meet my word count goal. I've got an estimated 5-10 pages left to write on this project, The Cardinal's Direction, which will wrap up a combination of dreams that I managed to tie into one story. I'm looking forward to editing it after I get the final bit written. I know, I know, I say that every time I come out with a new project, but editing really is the fun part for me -- I get to watch my babies grow up into finished drafts.

***
Thoroughbred is still on sale -- so you can get it now for .99c, or! -- you can get it for free using the new KindleUnlimited feature offered by Amazon. They're still sporting the 30-day trial, so if you decide to take advantage of their offer, you can take advantage of a free read of Thoroughbred, too.

I'm excited to see that the sale price has appealed to a lot of folks, and if you all keep buying copies, I'll be able to invest in doing an audiobook copy for those who like to have their books on the go. If this is something that interests you, then please encourage your friends and family to buy copies of Thoroughbred, too, as it'll get us faster to the audiobook option.

***

Sunday has become my day for sending out agent queries. Still getting rejections left and right, but that's all par for the course. The ones I sent out recently were all mailed, so I may be looking at 6-8 weeks before any type of response for those. The others I have out by e-mail should take about 2-3 weeks for responses (that is, if the particular agents can/will reply).

For now, that means that UNCERTAIN HEIRS is shelved while it waits to be picked up by an agent, and while I work on my other projects. I'm in the middle of researching all the extras I'll have to worry about if I do inevitably go with self-publishing this novel. Especially since, ya know, I'll be a lot more involved with the novel since I want to be able to sell it through more websites than just Amazon.com.

***

And then sometimes that dreaded thing known as Personal Life gets involved and shoos away every writing muse I have. Lately, some things have kept me from outright working on my shorter stories, so I've shifted myself into a different schedule. I'm able to still work on my projects, just not as quickly as I'd like to. I never want to rush the process, just because rushing makes for sloppy work, but I don't like to completely stop, so I compromise, and take a little progress over no progress at all.

I wonder -- because I'm thinking of doing it for myself, but would it be interesting to you all if I posted progress bars of my work status for my various projects? I couldn't do something as complicated as a NaNoWriMo counter, which wouldn't suit my purposes anyway, but just a simple percentage graph.

Anyway, time to get back to work. Catch you all later!

______________________________________________________________________

Ash Litton

Ash Litton is a writer and lover of sci-fi, fantasy, and all things fictional. She is the author of No Signal, Thoroughbred, Evening Hallow, Comeuppance, and Cabover Cabaret, and works on other Appalachian Dream Tales between her ongoing novel projects.

When she's not writing, she's drawing, and when she's not doing either of those, she's dreaming up new projects to work on. Born and raised in rural West Virginia, Ash has always wondered what things lay hidden in the hills around her. She attended West Virginia University, where she studied the English language before returning home to her family in rural West Virginia.